Ms Tando Songwevu, University of Johannesburg (UJ) alumnus, exemplifies what #UJBeTheSolution stands for. As the founder of Embo Group, a pan-African media, communications and events organisation that focuses on improving the image of Africa, Ms Songwevu is now viewed as an esteemed international leader and pioneer within the field of Arts and Culture.
This young entrepreneur recently received national recognition when she was named as one of South Africa’s Top 200 Young South Africans by the Mail and Guardian newspaper group. This achievement is only given to young adults up to the age of 35. The aim of the recognition is to help set a new agenda for the country through creativity and the resonance of national values in order to improve the standards of living for all South Africans.
“I am inspired by the prospects of an integrated prosperous Africa,” she says. Ms Songwevu was named a heritage ambassador by the National Heritage Council in 2015/16 and was awarded a Golden Shield for her work promoting South Africa’s heritage globally.
“I wish to grow Embo’s network across Africa to promote social cohesion, expand trade and increase investment between African countries and the rest of the world, by driving economic activity in the arts, cultural heritage and tourism.”
In 2012 she became a partner, researcher and co-ordinator at Research and Action in South Africa, a cultural exchange programme with African-American students at Michigan State University in the US. In 2015 she was involved in a Back to Africa campaign with the University of California Los Angeles. “Both projects forged links between Africa and the diaspora and contributed to cultural and economic development,” she adds.
“I am inspired by the youth who are discovering an alternative historical narrative. Pooling together all ideas and translating them into their everyday realities — the changes they aspire for, the kind of life they wish to live — the youth taking from the past to shape their own future.
“It is the youth that will change the economic trajectory of this country and continent”, concludes Songwevu.
Songwevu spent her childhood in the Eastern Cape. She moved to Pretoria when she was 13, where the different languages and cultures gave her a broader view of Africa. She went on to graduate from the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (TMALI) at Unisa and studied Public Relations at the University of Johannesburg, as well as project management with the Expert Group Academy.
Songwevu is a TV presenter on African Spiritual Realms on SABC 1.